DAY THREE - Sunday, July 2

STILL WOLFLESS

Good morning! It’s 5:10AM; 37 pleasant degrees.

Looks like another clear day on tap. The birdies are going crazy again. I stop for a gorgeous bull elk on the south side at Baronnette.

Next stop is at Picnic where I scope the r-v and enjoy the beginning of a very pink sunrise.

I chat with Bill H and Doug M and learn that Rick has already gone south. Wolf-sighting prospects are just not good at the moment on the northern range. Since the Prospect pups left the den area mid-June, wolf sightings have been quite sparse. The regulars have had many disappointing, wolfless days, so I guess it’s my turn.

But Doug finds a grizzly way up on Specimen so I stay to watch him, then I head south. Maybe my luck will change.

It’s a beautiful but uneventful drive over Dunraven. I spend the next 3 hours at Grizzly Overlook but I still don’t see any wolves!

It’s now 10:30 and even though it’s only 41 degrees if feels hot! We manage to see lots of elk and several sand hills (but no colts), three swans, ducks, geese, and of course, bison.

There is a bit of fun when a young spike elk moves toward 4 cranes. The elk sort of messes with them, like a bored teenager would. The cranes flap their wings and hop around, none too pleased.

Several of the watchers believe the lack of wolf sightings may be due to a hiker on the Howard Eaton trail, which goes right past the Wapiti rendezvous site. I’m sure the hiker meant no harm, but he should have paid attention to the various “closed” signs.

Rick talks with a Canyon Ranger about the possibility of placing more obvious signage, or perhaps a sawhorse kind of barrier along the popular trail.

Laurie and I finally give up and head back over Dunraven. There is still a good bit of snow at road level on Dunraven. It reaches 77 degrees at noon and feels REALLY hot.

On the way back we have a bighorn sheep jam at Junction Butte. It’s ewes and lambs (very cute) moving from the north side to the south, into the forest (and presumably back to the cliffs).

Laurie and I chat and I do my exercises. It rains heavily for a while and we get a bit of wind.

At 7:30 I head back down to the valley, still hopeful for a wolf sighting.

I meet up with Rick at Footbridge. We see a black bear and some pronghorn. He tells me a bittersweet story about a “Make A Wish” kid that he spoke to.

Bill H comes through with another bear – in fact a grizzly mom with two cubs of the year. These are my first coys of this trip. They are up on Norris, grazing and grubbing.

I stop at Midpoint when I see people pointing south. I ask what they see and they say “wolf”. I set up and they describe the spot. It’s one of the narrow channels of the river.

I ask what they’ve been seeing the wolf do. They say “oh, he just pops up every once in a while. He’s out of sight now”. What I see are the backs of bison moving through the channel. Hmm. I have made this “mistake” several times myself and I remember being very embarrassed. I don’t want to be a jerk to people who are trying to be helpful to me so I just say “cool, thanks” and move on.

I scope from Dorothy’s a while. It’s frustrating. Three days without a single wolf sighting is really unusual for me. I wonder if this is what it will be like in the future, when Rick retires. But then I look around and see just how gorgeous it is here and how pleasant to be able to sit here and smell the sage and listen to the trill of meadowlarks.

I head back east and stop again at Footbridge when I see Bill H. He has another grizzly; this one on K2 so I watch him a while. We share the grizzly sighting with a very nice group of biology students in the pullout. They ask lots of questions about bears and wolves and we do our best to answer them.

But now I’m losing the light so I head back east.

Today I saw: a black bear, 5 grizzly bears (including 2 cubs), bison, a coyote, cranes, ducks, elk, geese, pronghorn, bighorn sheep (including lambs), 3 swans and the spirit of Allison & Richard.

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